New York Post columnist and Hillary expert John Podhoretz
HH: We being this hour with New York Post columnist and author of Can She Be Stopped?, John Podhoretz. John, it’s been a while, good to talk to you again.
JP: Oh, Hugh, my favorite guy. How are you?
HH: I’m grand, thank you. Are you living in a sanctuary city?
JP: Well, everywhere I look, I see little stickers on doors declaring that this store is a safe haven. So if it should happen that the INS is chasing an illegal alien through the streets of New York, and he should run into the store, and the agents appear at the door of the store, to put his arms across and say thou shalt not pass these doors.
HH: I figured if they could get to the…what’s that Church up on the West Side?
JP: The Riverside Church.
HH: If they could get to the Riverside Church or the Y on the West Side, they’d be Ollie, Ollie in free. But this debate which is breaking out between Romney and Giuliani has its farcical side. What did Rudy say about illegals fifteen years ago?
JP: 25 years ago, I believe.
HH: What did he say?
JP: I don’t know. Well, no, what did he say? Fifteen years ago he said, or not fifteen years ago, fourteen or thirteen years ago, he said that they were a net benefit to New York city, which and in fact, though as usual, I’m going to get 10,000 e-mails screaming at me…
HH: Oh, my gosh, are you sure you want to say what you’re about to say?
JP: It was true.
HH: All right, go ahead.
JP: It was true at the time (laughing) I mean, anyway, but his point, which I think is actually an interesting point that some anti-, some serious restriction people should listen to is that this is a federal problem, not a local problem, and what happens if they’re here, what then, you know? What do you do with the children of illegals once they’re here?
HH: Should he have stuck with that position during the immigration debate, John Podhoretz?
JP: Clearly not. Clearly I would say that he has decided to essentially use his law and order credentials to tack right on immigration, and I mean politically, it seems to have been an inspired decision on his part.
HH: You see, I don’t consider that a flip-flop. I’ve been making this argument about Romney and abortion for a long time. If you go in one direction, from the left leaning to the right leaning, that’s what we like in our candidates.
HH: We don’t want to criticize them for doing that.
JP: No, but I mean, look, basically, the situation is when he said whatever it was that he said that people don’t like about illegals, it was 1995, 1996, something like that. I mean, you know, the influx of 12 million had not yet happened. So to be fair, these are different times. Different opinions can be expressed in different times. And also, if, as you’re saying about Romney and abortion, the facts on the ground change, and a candidate decides that it is in his interest to move toward a place where the popular opinion of his party has gone, that is the nature of representative democracy.
HH: Agreed. And that’s what we care about, is what they’ll do as president. John Podhoretz, Barack the Bumbler was out on the stump today, and said we’ve got to get the job done there in Afghanistan, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there. What about the not quite ready for prime time Obama?
JP: Well look, you know, this is the nature of the year that we are now in. The fact that this incredibly long campaign that is now eight months long, and he’s been in the race for seven months, presidential races uses to be seven months long.
JP: And there was no YouTube, and people made fewer appearances and spoke less, and were less covered. And one of the points that I make in my book Can She Be Stopped?, soon to be released in paperback, is that the nature of presidential races is that they’re like golf tournaments. And the question is not who’s going to beat somebody else, but who’s going to beat himself? Who’s going to make the most unforced errors, make the most mistakes, trip over his own tongue, say foolish things. That’s one of the reasons that experience matters in these, in this business, because people learn discipline over a long political career.
HH: And Hillary has not made…
JP: And even like Hillary, who has learned discipline…
JP: …because of course she walked into a buzz saw in 1992-1993-1994, said nothing right. Anytime she opened her mouth, she made a disastrous mistake. And she retooled herself. She is now like George W. Bush, somebody who goes out on the stump and does not injure herself. She does not say something that is going to get her into trouble.
HH: I’ve got two things to play for you from Hillary. Here’s Hillary talking today about health care. Here goes.
HRC: I have never advocated socialized medicine, and I hope all the journalists here that loudly and clearly, because that has been a right-wing attack on me for fifteen years. And it is wrong.
HH: John, that voice…
JP: I know, I know, but do you remember…look, remember how George W. Bush’s voice got to you in 1999?
JP: You know, Richard Nixon didn’t have a good voice, the elder George Bush didn’t have a good voice. Remember how boring Bill Clinton was? I mean, you know…
HH: Okay, what about the idea that she’s never been for socialized medicine? Does that hold up? Because Rudy’s going right at her on that.
JP: Well, I mean, does it hold up? You know, technically speaking, she did not, her health care plan was not let us now nationalize, we are now going to nationalize the health care business. It was we are going to set price caps, we are going to set fees, we are going to invent seven regional providers, theoretically, these were all going to be private industries, but they were going to be so regulated by government that there would have been very little difference. But technically speaking, she, you can’t like do a fact check thing on her and prove that she was for socialized medicine.
HH: All right, now let’s get…I think that it shows that she’s worried about the charge, though. I do believe that whatever Rudy has been doing and saying…
JP: Well, of course she’s worried about the charge…
JP: Look, this is somebody who her entire political career is now based on the knowledge of the mistakes that she blundered into in 1993.
HH: Yup. Well put.
JP: And she has defined her political character as being the person who is not going to do that again.
HH: Now here is her ad from today in Iowa. Again, I’m talking with John Podhoretz, who wrote the book on Hillary, Can She Be Stopped? Here’s her latest Iowa ad.
HRC: As I travel around America, I hear from so many people who feel like they’re just invisible to their government.
Voice: Hillary Clinton has spent her life standing up for people others don’t see.
HRC: So if you’re a family that is struggling, and you don’t have health care, well, you are invisible to this president. If you’re a single mom trying to find affordable child care so you can go to work, well, you’re invisible, too. And I never thought I would see that our soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan would be treated as though they were invisible as well. Americans from all walks of life across our country may be invisible to this president, but they’re not invisible to me, and they won’t be invisible to the next president of the United States. I’m Hillary Clinton, and I approved this message.
HH: John Podhoretz, there’s the message, there is the music, there is the voiceover. What do you make of this?
JP: I mean, I think this is a great commercial. I mean, I think everything she’s saying is balderdash, but I mean, that is a commercial that precisely and perfectly appeals to the people that she needs to be enthusiastic about her in January in Iowa. And remember…
HH: You’re right. They’re victims, the victim class.
JP: And remember, the thing about Hillary is if she wins Iowa, it’s over.
HH: You’re right.
JP: If she wins Iowa, Iowa is the state where John Edwards was supposed to be able to defeat her, or people who want change. If she wins Iowa, you know, everyone else can just go home. So I think she understands…listen, this is her score.
HH: Everybody’s available…
JP: And remember, her, if you read the memo by Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster that came out yesterday, his point is that ultimately, Hillary’s the Democratic Party’s potential appeal to married women. Not married couples, but married women, and unmarried women, could be the basis of a large margin of victory in November, 2008.
HH: Listen to the voiceover voice, John Podhoretz. Here it is:
Voice: Hillary Clinton has spent her life standing up for people others don’t see.
HH: Now I study voiceover. It’s my business. This is very different from a political ad voiceover. It’s much higher. It’s much more of a…it’s an octave higher than normal. Are they trying to soften her out every single step of the way?
JP: Well, of course. But of course, what do they do, what do they ordinarily do? What they ordinarily do when they want to soften in political advertising is to have a female voice. If you think about most Republican advertising in 2004, you would have a woman as the voiceover person in an effort to sort of dampen out the effect of the maleness of the candidate. So in her case, she’s not going to have a woman, because she’s a female voice. So what she’s going to have is like a tenor.
HH: It is a tenor.
JP: A boy tenor.
HH: (laughing) John Podhoretz, author of Can She Be Stopped?, boy we hope so. He’s our consultant on all matters Hillary from now until the big day. Thank you, John, from the New York Post.
End of interview.